It’s been an eventful last few months to say the least – I packed my bags, said goodbye to magical Bangalore and relocated to New Delhi. I became a little older, a little wiser and as impossible as it may sound – even better looking. Anyway, things have been mad. I haven’t had time to think, let alone blog.
I finally caught a break during Diwali when I headed over to Hyderabad. I spent a good two days just lying motionless on the sofa looking at my aquarium, but by day 3, I was raring to go. I’ve been living out of a suitcase for some time now, so it’s been a while since I set foot inside a rasoi-ghar. Sunday night, I decided that I wanted to bake a nice big pie for dinner. So after a serious game of chess with Buckles – the family kitten, I got started on the dough for my pie crust.
2.5 cups flour
1 cup butter (very cold, cut into cubes)
a pinch of salt
half a pinch of sugar
4 tbsp cold water
It is very important to control temperatures while making shortcrust. Work on a marble top so that your ingredients stay as cool as possible, and avoid working the dough with your hands until absolutely necessary. The heat from your hands will melt the butter and ruin the consistency of the pastry. Keep things as cool as possible. In fact, as a precaution, pop two Crocin just in case you’re running a low grade fever.
I first mixed all my dry ingredients together – the flour (straight out of the fridge), the salt and the sugar. Once they were evenly mixed, I added in the butter and started to work it using a steel fork. I kept ‘cutting’ the mixture with the fork until the whole thing resembled a pile of bread crumbs. Continuing to use the fork, I then shaped the mixture into a miniature hillock. Please note, a hill would be going too far. This thing needs to high enough for a GI Joe to crouch behind, yet low enough for He-Man to comfortably look over. (Standard action figure sizes apply). Clear? Good. I made a little well in the center and added 2 tbsp of very cold water. I started to work the mixture till it began to stick to the surface very slightly. Added some more water and finally got in there with my hands.
The mixture will slowly come together and form an interesting mass. It’s a lot like what happens when you’re kneeling down outside the principal’s office at age twelve. Stoic silence at first. A little bit of embarassment as well, perhaps. But, an hour later when your knees are killing you and you’re bored out of your frickin’ skull, you WIIL make friends with the other kids kneeling down outside the office and then put together a formidable force capable of unleashing the most unholy mischief to have ever be conducted in the 84 year history of the Hyderabad Public School.
So yes. I shaped the dough into a ball, wrapped it up in some clingfilm and put it in the fridge. Got started on the filling, next.
300 gm boneless chicken (diced)
300 gm shoulder/picnic ham (diced)
Half a head of Romaine lettuce
1 medium sized onion
6 cloves of garlic
I heated up some olive oil in a wok and chucked in my chopped garlic and diced onion. I let them soften up in the oil and waited for the onions to turn translucent. Added the boneless chicken and the ham and gave it all a good toss. I kept the flame low and let the meat cook slowly. What’s fun about this, is that the fat from the ham breaks down and the chicken gets to cook in it. Waited for the chicken to get cooked and then added in my romaine lettuce. Stick to the cut, and dice this as well. I seasoned the whole thing with salt, plenty of coarsely ground black pepper and a generous amount of dried thyme. Waited for the meats to cook completely and watched the lettuce wilt like Stephan Bonnar’s cardio in the late rounds of an MMA fight. Tipped in the beaten eggs, mixed well and took it off the heat. The egg acts as a binding agent that keeps the mixture from falling apart. The residual heat in the pan is more than enough to cook the eggs, so don’t worry about it too much. I set the filling aside and got started on the crust.
Got the shortcrust dough out of the fridge and rolled it out into a disc large enough to carpet Arunachal Pradesh. If this is the first time you’re baking a pie, remember to roll generously. You want enough dough to fill the pie mould completely and then have some to close the top. Anyway, no need to grease the tin. There’s more than enough butter in the dough to keep it from sticking. Lined the tin with the dough and spooned in my mix. You need to work fast here, because the heat from the filling will start to cook the crust. Plopped a disc of dough on top and sealed the pie completely. I made a few chutes on the top to let the steam out, and the put the thing in the oven. 180 deg. C for 30 min.
Took it out, brushed it over with some olive oil, marvelled at the sheen for a bit and wiped away a tear of joy before sounding the gong for dinner. Cut out giant wedges and served it out. I was thrilled to see how flaky the crust had come out. The filling was nice and juicy and the ham and chicken were beautifully moist. The lettuce was an after-thought really, but I’m glad I added it. The ever so light bitter taste of the lettuce combined with the texture contrast it lent to the dish was fantastic.
Imma wrap this post up, right here. It has taken me almost two months to finish writing this. I mean.. it’s been a while since Diwali, right? I’ve got loads more to write, but for now the ol’ career seems to be getting in the way.
Over and out. 😀